I recently quit my high stress, un-inspiring corporate job. No more pinging people, fleshing crap out, finding the root cause, and creating synergies…I’m out.
So what happens when you leave the corporate grind, when you decide to stop chasing raises, the better title, when you realize life is about more than your LinkedIn portfolio or how many connections you have? For me it felt like life began again. Ok, so maybe life didn’t REALLY begin again, but I did suddenly have less stress and anxiety and an amazing amount of time on my hands so I made a decision to improve myself a bit. I decided to get serious about a hobby I had dabbled in, but never fully committed to before.
Nor I, or anyone I know for that matter, would call me a photographer, but I enjoy taking photos and capturing moments and several years ago I splurged and bought myself a Canon 60D. It’s a great camera, it takes crisp pretty pictures and I love the quality of the photos and what I am able to capture. Shortly after I made the purchase I read lots and lots of photography articles, took a few online classes on posing and composition, and I will say that I really tried to improve. But you know what? I’ve had that camera for almost five years and I still only get a decent shot while using the auto modes. Here I am sitting with a couple thousand bucks worth of camera, some great lenses, decent editing software and now a heck of a lot of time on my hands.
With my new found free time, and I will admit, somewhat lofty aspirations, I committed to becoming a “real” photographer. You might giggle to yourself, but in imagination land I had already set about composing my deep & brooding photographer self portrait. You know, the one with me posing with my camera in a rustic and crinkly leather chair in some dimly lit shady coffee house (it won’t be a tavern, if you know me, you know why). I was dreaming of basking in the accolades of my peers, being invited to jettison off to exotic locales to photograph dignitaries, celebrities…I could go on. I won’t. Instead I picked up my camera, headed off to a fall festival with my family and prepared to create visual nirvana. I got ready for the first shot; I set my camera to Av and took a deep breath. I remembered all the articles, digital photography books, magazines and other stuff I’d read over the years and adjusted my settings. The scene was set, the smiles were authentic, I pressed the shutter and…it stuck. My friggin shutter was stuck. Not stuck a little, not a minor adjustment. Friggin stuck. I moved the dial (yup, I call it the dial) to see if there was a fix. I would eventually find that there was indeed a “fix”. The camera functioned perfectly in the auto modes. Only the auto modes.
I spent the next two days sighing, groaning and rather loudly, for effect, complaining how I finally had the time to create visual masterpieces and now I didn’t have the camera. Dave, my husband, the most unselfish and generous man in the world, demanded (the word demanded MAY be an exaggeration) that I research a replacement until we could find out what was wrong with my 60D.
I wasted no time and very quickly identified the “perfect” upgrade. I immediately set about learning all of the settings, I thought very seriously about how I could improve all of my photo skills, I took an online class, I mean I really tried to learn the full capabilities of my editing software. On an almost hourly basis I read articles about composition, the exposure triangle, how to improve your photos in any number of steps, what the pros won’t tell you, it went on and on. I researched photo project ideas, listened to podcasts, I even learned how to do a head swap in Photoshop (gonna keep that in my back pocket).
If you happen to know me personally, then you know I cannot moderate. On anything. Ever. I spent every free minute consumed with the sole goal of improvement. I read every article I could find, I looked through way too many blogs and posts; I even created a Pinterest page devoted to photography. I spent hour after hour scouring the internet reading hint after hint, tip after tip and then out of nowhere I had a moment. Not one of clarity, not one of those pivotal moments, just a moment where I could imagine what I might be like, what my life might look like if I was a photographer.
A plan started to emerge in my head….What if I took a picture every day for an entire year, and what if I shared those photos, the great, the so-so and the stinkers with everyone? (Please note that “everyone” to me refers to my immediate family and a few friends who get what I’m about). What if I talked about what I found interesting, funny, annoying, ironic and just plain confounding about photography? What if I tracked my quest to understand the so called “basics” of photography…What if I tried to use things like histograms (sorry, no clue) what if I was able to demystify composition and how “noise” affects your photo?
What if I start today?